In March of 2020, many parts of the country were entering what they believed would be a short lockdown in order to help flatten the curve of SARS-CoV-2 – a novel coronavirus making its way around the globe, prompting the World Health Organization to officially recognize it as a global pandemic.
As uncertainty started affecting everyday life, families grappled with the new reality of working while caring for children, sharing space among each other 24/7, and, in too many cases, losing loved ones to the disease. The real estate industry was not exempt, yet agents and associates worldwide remained resilient in the face of such drastic changes. They strengthened their bonds with clients by coming from a place of care. They built community through Facebook groups, exchanged resources, and helped lift each other up in the face of a shifting market. They reevaluated their own processes and seamlessly pivoted to a virtual environment. And they learned a heck of a lot along the way.
One year later, the Outfront team posed the question “What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned during the COVID pandemic and how has this lesson impacted your business?” through Command Your Conversion. Here are some of the responses shared by associates across North America. The submissions have been edited for length and clarity.
1. Come as a Person, Not as an Agent
“I learned to ask the people around me how I can best support them. When the pandemic came, people needed us as agents and people for different reasons than before: navigating constant changes that affected the way we sold homes, and providing honest answers that made them feel confident during a time where there were so many unanswered questions. I learned to approach people as a human being first, to help them solve the things I could for them and support them the way they wanted me to. Your audience needs can change; always ask what they need.” – Krista Schrader, Michigan
2. Stick to the Basics
“I started my team in March 2020 and had the highest year of my career, both in transaction count and production. The biggest lesson I learned … stick to the basics, take care of your top clients, referrals, and contacts, follow the model no matter what, reduce cost, and know we are all in this together. My relationships are stronger than ever, tougher than ever, and the models work!” – Dillar Schwartz, Texas
3. Embrace Change
“The lesson was to lead the change, not only in our business, but in our communities. We lost face-to-face, but we still had screen-to-screen. There were still clients that needed our help, so we got creative with video, livestreams, weekly team meetings, and virtual training. We ran toward solutions and tested every option, drawing the blueprint after. And, the results, one of our best years yet as far as production. And, maybe more important, our entire team became a more cohesive unit in the past year.” – Pat Buesing, Maryland
4. Come From the Heart
“It was humbling. I learned how absolutely rich I am in life and love. Never mind the money. I missed and still miss my family and friends so terribly. ❤️ No amount of cash can cure that. My heart shifted to more fiercely caring for others and checking in on them and loved ones. I had more intimate conversations with clients about how much we appreciated one another and the camaraderie we missed so much. Care calls were, and always will be, the center of my week.” – Melinda L. Schnur, Virginia
5. Find New Ways to Express Care
“In 2020, our business doubled from 2019. In looking at it, we feel a lot of the growth directly correlated to how quickly we delivered care packages to our past clients. We had a big year of events planned, and we found ways to pivot and double down on the database, while cutting costs and making sure that they knew we cared about them.” – Brady Summers, Utah
6. Be a Beacon of Hope for Your Team
“I learned and more deeply understood that people want to know we CARE. I threw myself into bringing hope, optimism, and value to my agents by showing up every morning for hundreds of days sharing tactics from SHIFT and MREA to support them in their business. Calling and texting to see how our agents were doing was more impactful than I ever could have imagined. Sharing in this very real experience with our agents has brought us closer and deepened our relationships beyond measure.” – Tenleigh Pearcy, Ontario, Canada
7. Experience Gratitude
“In 2019, I kept hearing about the importance of gratitude: That approaching every part of our lives with gratitude was the key to happiness and success. 2020 taught me gratitude in a big way. I have a new appreciation for getting together with friends, for enjoying music in a huge concert crowd and cramming into a college football stadium, for hosting a busy open house and seeing colleagues at meetings and training classes, for weddings and funerals, for squeezing into an airplane seat, for a full sweaty Jazzercise class, for watching a live performance of the Nutcracker during the holidays and sitting in a crowded sanctuary at Easter, and for hugs.
“Over the next year, as our lives gradually get back to normal, there will be moments of pause when I’m sure I’ll say a silent prayer of gratitude that we can again enjoy so many simple things I used to take for granted. The impact on my business is the same as the impact on my life. I have a new understanding of the fact that people and the journey are really all that matters.” – Donna Anderson, Michigan
8. Build a Relational Business
“I think one of the wonderful lessons our team learned through this pandemic is just how resilient our business is when it’s focused on the true needs of our clients and vendors. When we doubled down on supporting our people and our business relationships through the tough times, we actually came through the pandemic stronger with a healthier business. If your business is transactional, you may make a lot of money when the going is easy – but if it’s built on a foundation of relationships and true company values, you’ll grow through good times and bad, and raise others up with you.
“We got creative in how we supported those relationships – with the standard Zooms and the old-school care packages and handwritten cards, but also in seeking to amplify opportunities for others to support other small businesses, and offering to do grocery runs for quarantined clients and the like – and they’ve in turn supported us. It always comes back to doing right by our people wherever we can, however we can.” – Lindsay Gaudyn, Colorado
9. God, Then Family, Then Business
“Stop running around and following shiny objects. Practice God, family and business all the way. If you focus on the right things, you will see how everything falls right in place. I learned to appreciate time with the people I love (my wife and kids), started taking care of myself (so far lost 55 lbs) and I’m doing it slowly, one step at a time! I’m with purpose working on God, family, myself, and my business!” – Hugo Sanchez, California
10. Stay in Contact With Your Sphere
“I realized that I needed to be in direct contact (a combo of phone, text and email) with all active clients daily, and sometimes several times a day, to help keep them calm and talk them through any obstacles that the pandemic brought with it to transactions. That rewarded us mutually with much deeper relationships and a much higher level of trust, which was a great outcome.” – Lucy Thompson, New Jersey
What is the biggest lesson YOU’VE learned during the pandemic and how has it impacted your business? Are there any aspects of the pandemic as it relates to your business that you are still struggling with and would like more guidance on? What type of content would you like to see more of on Outfront? Let us know in the comments section.